Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How Drinking Milk in Canada helps Angolans! Huh?!?

How a little bag can make a big difference!  A short time ago, I was introduced to an enterprising group of ladies from my hometown region in Ontario, Canada who had a desire to help Angolans and our work with CEML in Angola. This assistance is through their project to provide handmade sleepingmats made by these ladies from discarded milk bags, a prevalent waste product in the country of Canada.

This is truly an inspirational story how these ladies, school children, and others involved in the project are to be connected with Angolans in a very unique way; to provide a handmade sleepingmat to Angolans that do not have a bed or any other mat to sleep on.

Let me explain the process of this mat project.  In Canada, the dairies package milk in small one quart plastic bags, with three of these smaller quart plastic bags then contained in a thicker outer plastic bag as shown here on the left.  Where available in each Canadian region, these outer bags can be returned for collection in recycling programs, but outside of this option, it seems that most of these outer bags eventually end up in landfills.  This is definitely a 'green' project!

Through a process of word of mouth and promotion, a developed consortium of over 15 public schools, public libraries, churches in the area are encouraged to save their milk bags as a corporate project and then bring them to collection points.  It has been exciting to explain to each of these groups how they are a taking part in the project and being connected to supply a real need for Angolans.

The collected milk bags are then cut into strips, tied together and then
crocheted by a team of over 30 individuals involved in the project.  Roughly 250 milk bags are required to make a sleepingmat; children's mats are 36 by 45 inches ( 91 by 114 cm) and adult mats are 36 by 65 inches (91 by 165 cm).

The excitement of this project is growing, as the practicality of this mat, being easy to make, easy to handle and easy to clean become more apparent for those in isolation and in need of the product in Angola. Over an 8 month period, this group has crocheted over 100 sleeping mats which are expected to be shipped via container from Canada to Angola by the end of 2010.

In other regions of the world where there are other kinds of disposable plastics, more ways are being explored to use these materials to make more mats. 

If you and your group is interested in this project, contact me and I will provide the information concerning how to crochet the sleepingmat and have it shipped to Angola.

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